“You Can’t Record That!” Engaging American Indian Traditional Healers in Qualitative Research

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Eliciting the serious illness-related traditions, beliefs, and values of historically and currently marginalized populations such as American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) through Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) is a crucial initial step towards developing culturally-responsive interventions. While CBPR is the preferred methodology for research with AI/AN populations (1-2), it has rarely been used in palliative care (PC) research (3-4) specific to AI/AN spirituality. Moreover, few studies regarding AI/AN spirituality have included traditional healers’ voices in the research process (5-7); none were related to PC. To understand AI/AN spirituality in relation to PC requires cognizance of the historical trauma and cultural genocide experienced by many AI/ANs at the hands of the federal government and religious organizations. These entities focused on erasing traditional culture and resulted in AI/ANs being forced to practice traditional ceremonies, which are often highly valued at end-of- life, in secrecy (5-9). Thus, it is evident why collaborative partnerships between traditional healers and researchers are rare.

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Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

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